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White House Acknowledges Moving Location of Transcript; Interview with Adam Entous on Hunter Biden; Sanjay Gupta Vaping Investigation Airs Sunday. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] TEXT: Letter from the National Security Action: "President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and the resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional foreign interference into our democratic processes. That would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power."

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: -- democracy crosses a red line that no president should ever cross. And so what we're trying to say in this letter is that it is now time to begin the impeachment proceedings. Personally, I think the president should be removed from office because he shamed the country and he's tried to hold himself above the law.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Ambassador Burns, we heard Democratic 2020 candidate Senator Kamala Harris weigh in on this, and weigh in on the State Department and any role of State Department officials in all of this, last night.

She was talking about Rudy Giuliani and his connection to all of this. Listen to what she said.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm calling for the I.G. to investigate if any state officials worked with Giuliani to help him with his personal quest. I (ph) also think that the State Bar of New York needs to investigate Rudy Giuliani.


HARLOW: So her point here is, did the State Department use Rudy Giuliani in any official capacity to liaise with their counterparts in Ukraine. Is that a question for you as well?

BURNS: It is. And I think the other question is, did Rudy Giuliani use the State Department --


BURNS: -- a lot we don't k now here. And I don't want to rush to judgment on Secretary Pompeo or the other people at State. It looks like the president allowed Rudy Giuliani to hijack American policy towards Ukraine. I mean, here's a private citizen -- I don't know if he has a security clearance -- working with the president of Ukraine, with that president's cabinet, behind the back of most American diplomats.

The president fired a very fine career ambassador, Masha Yovanovich. And, suddenly, Rudy Giuliani's the totality of our policy towards Ukraine? It doesn't make sense, and I think that's a central question for the Congress.

HARLOW: Right. And then spoke ill of her, right, Jim? On the call with the Ukrainian president?


And, Ambassador, you've heard the president, repeatedly now, attack this whistleblower, calling him a spy, talking about, you know, death penalty, in effect, for spies in the past. Tell me your -- you served in government for years. Tell me your reaction, and the impact of that, particularly for other potential whistleblowers who see wrongdoing.

BURNS: Well, that's right, Jim. And you remember, the president made these atrocious remarks, yesterday, in front of American diplomats at the United States Mission to the U.N. And when I saw those remarks, I thought, here is the mind and the soul of an authoritarian, someone who doesn't respect our law.

The whistleblower law encourages public servants to come forward if they see anything illegal or anything that needs to be fixed. And whoever this person is -- and I hope the identity can be protected, of this person -- they did the right, patriotic thing. And for the president to call this person a spy? That's a perversion on American justice and American law.

And it's another indication, he's not fit to lead us. He does not measure up to any prior president, people, you know, of both parties who held the office with dignity.

SCIUTTO: Ambassador Nicholas Burns, those are riveting words.


SCIUTTO: Thanks so much for coming on.

BURNS: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. We do have significant breaking news right now regarding that whistleblower complaint. Our Kaitlan Collins joins us again, this morning, from the White House. Kaitlan, what are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jim and Poppy, what we're learning is that the White House is acknowledging for the first time that that transcript of the president's call with the president of Ukraine was moved from where these transcripts are typically stored, to a different server in order -- a server that's typically for information that's national security-sensitive, for very sensitive information, not typically for the readouts of the president's calls with heads of state. And the White House is acknowledging this.

This is one of the more explosive claims in that whistleblower's complaint. And in a statement obtained by my colleague Pam Brown, first to CNN, a senior White House official says, quote, "National Security Council lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately." That's them acknowledging that they did move that transcript of the call, somewhere where fewer eyes, essentially, could see it.

And this has been a point of contention because initially in that complaint, the whistleblower said that White House lawyers had this moved. So what we're reading into this statement is, they are saying it wasn't just someone generally from the White House Counsel's office; they are specifically putting this on a lawyer for the National Security Council --

HARLOW: Right.

COLLINS: -- even though we should note that typically, those lawyers do fall under the umbrella of the White House Counsel's office. But this is going to be something to keep an eye on in the next few days. Because as we are learning that this transcript was moved, a lot of the questions have been whether or not the president directed people to move it, or whether they acted unilaterally. And that's going to be a question about this.

And this also goes into -- even though on Twitter today, the president is trying to question the credibility of this whistleblower, saying that their information was inaccurate. This shows that it was not because that was one of the chief concerns in his complaint, in this person's complaint, that they said that this transcript had been moved, essentially so there was less of a chance that it could leak out and be embarrassing --


COLLINS: -- for the president and the White House.


SCIUTTO: Kaitlan, if you can, help me read the White House confirming this, here. And forgive me if this is off, but by saying White House lawyers directed this, is that trying to shift the blame here? (inaudible) know, the lawyers said this has to happen. Is that the read, or is it just more looking for a legal foundation for that move?

COLLINS: That could potentially be it. But what we known before, that it was White House lawyers that directed this transcript be moved. This is specifically putting it on a lawyer for the National Security Council --

HARLOW: Right.

COLLINS: -- that's, of course, you know, what John Bolton used to run, those are the aides that are on the calls, transcribing what it is that the president says to these world leaders. And so that is essentially what we seem to be moving, is they're

shifting it, not just the White House Counsel's office overall, they're putting it on the National Security Council's office specifically.

Now, we don't know who it is. There's not a lot of detail about exactly whether or not that National Security Council lawyer who moved -- who directed this to be moved, was under the direction of someone else in the Council's office, or potentially someone higher up than that.

Those are the things that we're still trying to figure out. But right now, they are admitting that, yes --


COLLINS: -- a lawyer directed this transcript to be moved to a different server, where these transcripts are typically kept.

SCIUTTO: Well, we should note the "Washington Post," also reporting this morning, that it was the president who, after some embarrassing phone calls were leaded early in his administration, who said that he wanted --


SCIUTTO -- to tighten up the group of people that saw that. So, relevant, I suppose, to the larger picture. Kaitlan Collins, great to have you on. We'll be right back.



HARLOW: All right. Well, Hunter Biden has been thrust into the political spotlight in the last week. President Trump and his allies have become focused on the former vice president's son, repeating debunked allegations about his foreign business dealings.

With me now is Adam Entous of "The New Yorker." In July, he spent weeks with Hunter Biden, working on this in-depth profile all about him: his personal life, his business dealings.

Adam, thank you so much for being here. You cannot put your piece down, once you start reading it. And so much of it is tragic. I mean, what he has gone through as an addict. And you're one of the few, if not the only, journalist, who has ever spent this much time with Hunter Biden. He seems stunned, talking to you about the focus that he has become, especially for the president of the United States.

ADAM ENTOUS, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Yes. I mean, if you go back and look through previous election cycles, when his father was running, there was kind of drumbeat of criticism of Hunter because he was in the business world. And there was always this allegation floating that he was getting these jobs because of his last name or because somebody wanted to curry favor with his father. And this always bothered Hunter. He told me that, you know, he felt

like there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. No matter what job he took, people were going to assume it was, you know, because of his father or to curry favor with his father. And this is a source of kind of enduring frustration for him.


ENTOUS: Obviously, what we've seen happen now is a degree well beyond anything that Hunter has ever gone through in the past.

HARLOW: And all of those questions, as you report, started coming into the Obama administration in the second term, around 2014, around the time that he joined the board of this Ukrainian gas company, Burisma. "The New York Times," at least, Adam, has reported that Hunter Biden was paid somewhere around $50,000 a month --


HARLOW: -- for his work. Do we know that to be factual? And also, if it is, can you tell us what he did for this company? What did that work entail?

ENTOUS: Yes. So initially, he -- one of his partners actually was put on the board, a guy named Devon Archer. And Devon Archer then brought Hunter in. And, you know, Hunter was working as an of counsel for a law firm.

And the idea was that Devon wanted to see if Archer could work with this board, this new board, international board of directors for Burisma, to put together a -- you know, kind of a governance plan that would help the company appeal to Western investors.

And so that's how Hunter sort of initially gets involved. He doesn't tell his father anything about it, per the --

HARLOW: Right.

ENTOUS: -- don't ask, don't tell policy that goes back to when he first got into the business world. And he eventually was offered this position. The $50,000 a month, I've been told the same thing. But I was also told that it kind of depended on the month. Some months, he was actually working more as a lawyer for them and he got paid more, and other months, he got paid less.

But nonetheless, it was a sizable chunk of change --


ENTOUS: -- that he was receiving. He really had no substantial Ukraine experience. He had no Ukraine experience and no substantial, you know, experience in the energy sector at that stage in his career.

HARLOW: Right.

ENTOUS: And so, you know, the suspicion was -- among people who worked for Joe Biden, and some State Department and White House officials -- was, this was an effort on the part of Burisma to curry --


ENTOUS: -- to curry favor.

HARLOW: But that's side, I just --

ENTOUS: But they never raised it.

HARLOW: Right. I just want to deal in fact. Because there is so much speculation out there, and there is zero evidence that Hunter Biden or Joe Biden did anything wrong here.

TEXT: Fact Check: No evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter or Joe Biden; No public evidence Hunter Biden was ever under investigation; Prosecutor Viktor Shokin was accused of hindering investigations into corruption

HARLOW: That said, as you know, Adam, everyone this week is talking about one line in your reporting. And that is about his work on that board. And you quote him as saying, "Hunter Biden: Dad (ph) said, 'I hope you know what you're doing.' And I said, 'I do.'" This week we heard the former Vice President Joe Biden say, quote -- and unequivocally -- quote, "I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings."


I know you've talked to Hunter Biden in --


HARLOW: -- you know, this week, as this --


HARLOW: -- has all sort of evolved and bubbled up. Has he made that more clear for you?

ENTOUS: Not really, no. We hadn't talked about that. I think when you look at Joe Biden's statement, it's rather vague. I think it also depends on the timing. So what happens is, is that aides to Biden, really, are too -- either too intimidated or they don't feel comfortable raising the issue of Hunter with Joe Biden.

This is at a period of time when Joe Biden's other son, Beau, who's like a lifeline for Hunter --


ENTOUS: -- is entering kind of the final year of his life, before he dies of a brain tumor. And so it was -- the family issues were extremely sensitive, and all of Biden's aides knew that. And they were really, really reluctant to talk -- HARLOW: Bring it up?

ENTOUS: -- to him about Hunter's business activities and the potential problems it created.

That -- there was a slight change that came just before Joe Biden went back to Ukraine in December 2015, so this is a good year and a half after Hunter joins the board. One of Biden's advisors, a guy named Amos Hochstein, he raises it with Joe Biden. He doesn't say, you know, you should tell your son to get off the board. He just wants him to be aware that it's probably going to be raised by the media at least, during the trips.

HARLOW: So -- yes.

ENTOUS: And then after that, Hunter gets a phone call from his father saying, I hope you know what you're doing.

And he says -- and he says, I do --


ENTOUS: -- and that's it, that's the end of the --


ENTOUS: -- conversation.

HARLOW: So, Adam, let me end on this.


HARLOW: One of the last parts of your piece -- and I quote -- "And yet, to many voters, the controversy over Hunter's business dealings will appear to have been avoidable, a product of Biden's resistance to having difficult conversations, particularly those involving his family."

My colleague Michael Smerconish asked you a really important question a few days ago, and I think it's worth following up on. Is this a case of just bad optics, and not anything more?

ENTOUS: Well, I think there's kind of two separate issues here. The issue of whether it was wise of Hunter Biden to take this position at Burisma when his father was guiding policy in Ukraine --


ENTOUS: -- and, you know, the wisdom of Biden and Biden's staffers, once they knew that, not to ask Hunter to step down. I think that is a legitimate subject of scrutiny. I'm not saying it's illegal in any way --


ENTOUS: -- I'm just saying it's -- that's where the optics come into it, and maybe it's even worse than bad optics. It sort of undermined American policy, of promoting, you know, fighting nepotism, fighting, you know, these kinds of problems that Ukraine has in a large scale.

So that's one issue. The other issue is, did Joe Biden use his office in order to fire a prosecutor to protect his son? That's the one where I found no evidence to back up, and a lot of evidence to the contrary.

HARLOW: Yes, yes. There's just no evidence. And, you're right, a lot of evidence to the contrary on that. Adam, I encourage everyone to take the time. It's a long read, but it's worth it. Thank you very much for your reporting.



HARLOW: We'll be right back.


HARLOW: Welcome back. The Centers for Disease Control says a 13th person has died from a vaping-related illness in the United States, and more than 800 patients across the country have been hospitalized after reporting lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette use.

SCIUTTO: This is really alarming, and it's confusing. Health officials have yet to pinpoint what's causing the illnesses, but many of these patients reported using e-cigarettes containing products derived from marijuana such as THC and CBD oil, both widely sold.

This Sunday, CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes an eye-opening exploration of the risks for people who vape CBD. Here's a sneak peek.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vaping CBD, it's one of the most popular ways to take it. Thirty percent of CBD users do it. And it turns out, vaping is likely what made their tainted CBD so much more dangerous.

MICHELLE PEACE, RESEARCHER, VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY: When we're talking about positive fix (ph) for something like CBD and you're inhaling it by vaping it, that's probably going to be an effective delivery system.

GUPTA (voice-over): I traveled to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to meet researcher Michelle Peace. She's investigating vaping during this CBD craze.

PEACE: But if that e-liquid happens to be tainted, you're also increasing the very rapid response of whatever it's adulterated with, which is some of the concern here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. I am so glad that you are doing this special reporting so people can see a lot more on this. What is going on here?

GUPTA: Well, you know, look, CBD is supposed to be safe, it's non- psychoactive, it can act as a medicine. When they test some of these products, then it's not CBD. It -- this is an unregulated market. And when you describe this as sort of the Wild West of things, that's what it means.

So somebody goes and buys this product, they pay for it with a credit card, they get it at a store, they think they know what they're getting but they're not. And that's been a huge concern, it's been a huge concern with the unregulated CBD market. Obviously, the vaping illnesses and even deaths that we've been talking about, that's part of the concern.


One of the things we really wanted to do in this film that's coming up on Sunday, was make sure people knew how to navigate this tricky landscape.

HARLOW: Right.

GUPTA: If you are wanting to buy these products --


GUPTA: -- wanting to take these products, how do you do it in a way that's authentic and safe? It's not easy, but we show you how to do it.

SCIUTTO: And they're everywhere. I mean, you see them at --

HARLOW: Everywhere.

SCIUTTO: -- checkout counters, right?


SCIUTTO: And it's the first I've learned that it's unregulated, I didn't know. Dr. Gupta, Sanjay Gupta, fantastic story. Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it.

SCIUTTO: You can watch as he searches for the truth about CBD, in Sanjay Gupta's new CNN special report, "WEED 5: THE CBD CRAZE." That's Sunday night, 8:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

And still ahead, CNN speaks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi amid this whirlwind 48 hours in D.C. Ahead here, why she says Attorney General William Barr has gone rogue.